Aurel Stein
  The Sanskritist
  Manuscript Treasures
  Kashmiri Scholarship
  Interface of Scholarship
  The Adopted Home
  Unfinished Tasks
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Supported by:
  Heritage Lottery Fund, Cambridge.
  Bodelian Library, Oxford.
  Nityanand Shastri Library Collection, Delhi.
  Kashmir Bhavan Centre, Luton.
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On way to India
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Aurel Stein began his under-graduate studies in Sanskrit and Philology in Vienna and from there moved to the University of Leipzig to study under the great German scholar, Georg Johnan Buhler - an authority on Indian Paleography, Oriental Languages and a master collector of Sanskrit manuscripts in India. It was during his term at Leipzig, when Stein studied under Buhler before latter shifted to Vienna as Professor of Indian Philology and Antiquities, that the idea of working in India germinated in Aurel Stein’s mind.

After Buhler’s departure from Leipzig in 1881, Stein moved to Tubingen to take up his studies under Rudolph von Roth, Professor of Indo- European Languages and History of Religions. This training gave Stein’s studies depth and focus. After receiving his Ph .D. in 1883 from the University of Tubingen, Stein received a Hungarian scholarship to undertake post - doctoral research in Oriental Languages and Archaeology at the Universities of Oxford, London and Cambridge. There, during 1886 and 1887, he studied coin collections at the British Museum in London and Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Two influences directed Stein to India. The first was the importance of the 19 th century Central European scholarship to philological studies. The other bridge and perhaps more potent than the first one to come to India was provided by the example of life and work of a compatriot Hungarian, Csoma de Korosi, who was a legend and a patriotic symbol stimulating his countrymen’s interest in Oriental research.

Aurel Stein was keen to put Csoma’s pioneering work in Asia in a proper perspective. He began to think to leave home in pursuit of a dream.

Aurel Stein’s other example to take the road to India came from Von Roth’s pursuit to obtain a Vedic manuscript that the latter believed was existing in Kashmir. Having learnt so through the accounts of travelers who had made it to Kashmir, Roth made an accurate guess that it was an unknown version of a text of the Athervaveda. He persuaded the British authorities in India to help him obtain this manuscript from Kashmir.

After many years of search it was in 1875 that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Ranbir Singh sent the manuscript to Sir William Muier, the Lieutenant Governor who was non- plussed by receiving - a messy bundle of tattered birch-bark leaves that made the manuscript. An urgent telegram was sent to Georg Buhler, then Professor of Oriental Languages in Bombay to come to the Viceregal mansion. On arrival Buhler surveyed the manuscript and came to the conclusion that what it needed was a washing. Reassuring the Governor that the ink used would not be affected, he cleaned the bundle in Sir William’s bathroom. The manuscript was restored by its bath following which it was entrusted to a native bookbinder. A week later the properly ordered and clean manuscript was sent to Roth.

Buhler’s firm knowledge of Indian scripts inspired Aurel Stein to follow his teacher. Buhler knew that many difficulties in obtaining then a correct transcript of the chronicle of Kashmir history – the Rajatarangini was due to clerical errors that existed in the Devanagari copies of the work. This script in which Sanskrit and modern Hindi was written did not become common in Kashmir until the second quarter of the 19 th century when it replaced the Sharada used by Kashmiri scholars.

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Folio of Kashmiri Athervaveda from the manuscript sent to Von Roth
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